An experimental study of auctions with a buy price under private and common values

Quazi Shahriar, John Wooders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


eBay's Buy It Now format allows a seller to list an auction with a "buy price" at which a bidder may purchase the item immediately and end the auction. When bidders are risk averse, then theoretically a buy price can raise seller revenue when values are private (but not when values are common). We report the results of laboratory experiments designed to determine whether in practice a buy price is advantageous to the seller. We find that a suitably chosen buy price yields a substantial increase in seller revenue when values are private, and a small (but statistically insignificant) increase in revenue when values are common. In both cases a buy price reduces the variance of seller revenue. A behavioral model which incorporates the winner's curse and the overweighting by bidders of their own signal explains the common value auction data better than the rational model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-573
Number of pages16
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Auction
  • Buy price
  • Common values
  • EBay
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Private values
  • Risk aversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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